DETROIT -- Tony Fadell, iPhone co-creator and Detroit area native who upended the mobile phone industry, has a message for Detroit: Don’t move to Silicon Valley.
At the 2017 Automotive News World Congress on Wednesday, Fadell said automakers need to take the opportunity to drive change in the industry by attracting talent to Detroit and taking more risks in planning for the future. Though investments in electric and automated technology show that automakers are aware that the transportation environment is evolving, Fadell said, more needs to be done.
“They have to work even faster,” he said. “It’s not just Silicon Valley, it’s China, it’s all these other places coming at this industry.”
Partnering with technology companies in Silicon Valley will facilitate innovation, Fadell said, however, creating a presence in California won’t give automakers an edge on newcomers.
“I’ve been in Silicon Valley for 25 years. I’ve watched all these companies come in and go out because they don’t necessarily become one with Silicon Valley,” he said. “They’re really not part of the community; they’re outsiders, so they don’t get all the best talent.”
By creating Detroit’s own innovative environment, automakers can attract talent to the city, he said. It is uniquely positioned to be a testing hub for autonomous vehicles and other mobility services, Fadell added, because of its lower relative population to other urban areas and existing infrastructure.
As mobility services such as ride-sharing and ride-hailing become more prevalent -- potentially influencing car ownership rates -- Fadell said, automakers will have an opportunity to put their bolder concept vehicles into production rather than focusing on more traditional designs.
“It’s not about one make and model; it’s about your whole mobility strategy,” he said.